The items marked in RED in the listing that follows are the ones you really should have.
Needles - For hand and machine sewing. Buy quality brands only, and be sure to have on hand a variety of sizes and types.
Needle threader - If you have trouble threading needles.
Straight pins - Use quality brand rustproof pins, size 17 for general use. Available with plain or plastic heads. Also comes in extra-thin, extra-long, and in magnetic wire. There are also magnetic pins available but they tend to stick together and to any metal surface.
Pincushion - To avoid scattering pins. A wrist pincushion attached to a bracelet is handiest. You can buy one or make one by sewing a pincushion to a bracelet of elastic. There are many kinds, including a magnetic one to use with steel pins.
Emery bag - Used to sharpen and remove rust from needles. Do not leave needles in emery as it can damage the needle finish.
Thimble - For faster, easier hand sewing, learn to use a thimble. Whether it is of metal or plastic, make sure it fits the middle finger of your sewing hand.
Good scissors and shears make all the difference, and with care they will last a lifetime. Avoid dropping them or using them on heavy paper or cardboard, and have another pair for household chores. Keep your scissors sharp too - for sharpening, check with your local hardware store or sewing machine repair shop, or r write to the manufacturer.
Dressmaker shears - Shears for cutting out fabric. Bent handles allow the fabric to remain flat on the table. A 7" or 8" overall length is good, and left-hand models are available. Blades may be plain or serrated-the latter good for cutting synthetic fabrics.
Electric scissors - take the strain out of cutting out fabric. Available in a variety of models.
Light trimmers - Shears for general use, trimming seams, clipping threads, etc. A 6" or 7" overall length is recommended.
Sewing and embroidery scissors - For cutting buttonholes, clipping, and other precise work. Equipped with two sharp points. Most useful in a 4" or 5" overall length.
Pinking and scalloping shears - For finishing seam (not to be used for cutting out fabric). A 7 ½" overall length is good. Left-hand models are available.
Cutting surface - Should be at least 30" wide and 48" long. A folding cutting board will protect or enlarge a table top and can be used on the floor or a bed. Made of special cardboard, it has markings to help keep fabric straight, and will take pins, which is especially useful with knits.